Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Monday, June 02, 2008

David McNeill and Greg Vanderbilt, "Martyrs for peace," Japan Focus, May 31, 2008

“All we did was post fliers, the same as soba restaurants or pizza delivery shops and other services. Why are those people not arrested? Because we were posting antiwar leaflets. In other words, the political message is the problem. But what if we were distributing leaflets telling the SDF troops to keep going in Iraq? That would be fine, right? So we can only conclude that [the police] are selectively eliminating ideas they don’t agree with.”

Prisoners of conscience, communists, antiwar activists, martyrs for Japan’s tottering pacifist constitution: Obora Toshiyuki, Onishi Nobuhiro and Takada Sachimi have been called many things since February 2004.

In the world of right-wing bloggers, they represent the dying strains of a 60-year-old refrain: no matter how the world changes, Japan must stay out of international conflict and remain true to a yellowing document written under US occupation in 1947. For others, including supporters who contributed 3-4 million yen to their legal fees, they are the stubborn keepers of the antiwar flame, the personification of pacifist ideals in the face of huge odds.

This epic struggle received scant attention, however, in a Supreme Court ruling in April that convicted the three of trespassing in a Tachikawa Self-Defence Force (SDF) housing compound, says Obora. In a recent interview in the cramped makeshift office of a tiny antiwar group, Tachikawa Tent Village, he and Onishi shared their thoughts on the verdict.

Read the article and interview here =>
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